Monday, February 15, 2016

A Belated Happy St. Valentine's Day

Stained-glass window at basilica in Terni, Italy
Our little church, Stella Maris, was crowded this first Sunday of Lent. Ah, I thought, Lenten resolutions! But it was also St. Valentine's Day and we connect love with Church.

Our priest could've spoken about the three temptations of Christ. Instead he chose instead to share a few thoughts about St. Valentine's Day, which I'm happy to say is still on the traditional Latin calendar. I'm not sure why it was dropped in the new calendar in favor of two newer saints. Maybe it was becoming too commercialized? There are at least a dozen saints listed on Catholic-online for Feb. 14th but it is St. Valentine we remember and countless people, whether or not they're Christian, propose to their beloved this day or choose it as a wedding day.

I didn't grow up celebrating Valentines and didn't get to know the saint until after our conversion. And what a beautiful story of love.

There are possibly two St. Valentines in the early Church (2nd to 4th century) whose legends became entwined. Perhaps the Church tried to sanctify a Roman fertility rite that occurs from Feb 13-15. She always builds on the traditions that are good in the culture as a way to preserve them.

The story goes that St. Valentine, a priest, secretly presided at weddings for soldiers (at the time it was unlawful for them to marry) and he was imprisoned. While in jail, St. Valentine prayed for the daughter of his jailor and she was healed. There were conversions and the emperor raged (remember that Christianity was still underground). St. Valentine was to be beheaded for his role in supporting Christian marriage. His last note was to the jailor's daughter, signed, from your Valentine. This is a willingness to love until death.

I also enjoyed our priest's thoughts on logos and mythos. Logos is what we know scientifically. Mythos is inner knowledge. So a myth is not necessarily an untruth but it may be the best way to preserve the truth. And all writers of tales know the power of story, because of the truth it contains.

Happy St. Valentine's Day! Love each day.

PS: Requiescat in pace, Justice Antonin Scalia. We will feel your absence keenly.


Faith E. Hough said...

I love that about Logos and Mythos!
Sts. Cyril and Methodius are great saints for writers, so I always like to give them a little attention when the rest of the world is [often unknowingly] honoring St. Valentine. :)

Mirka Breen said...

I don't know why the Romans felt that married men did not fight as well, but I suspect they killed Valentine more for preaching Christianity than for marrying soldiers, though they used the latter as an excuse. In my eyes he was a saint for both reasons. He stood for the right. The right to proclaim his beliefs and the right of others to love legally.
I have ceased worrying about commercialization, (commerce marches in anywhere it can) and take the parts that are meaningful to me. Love makes the world go around.

ClaudineGueh@CarryUsOffBooks said...

Happy Belated Valentine's Day, Vijaya. :)

Johnell DeWitt said...

How cool. I've wondered at the origin of St. Valentine's Day. Thank you.

Vijaya said...

Faith, we have a wonderful priest who loves literature and history, so there are always gold nuggets in his homilies. As always you bring up wonderful whys to honor these saints.

Mirka, you're right. Valentine was not living in friendly times. You have a good attitude taking what is meaningful and not worrying about the rest.

Claudine, thank you.

Johnell, the saints are great fodder for all sorts of things, not just love.